BY NORMAN WINTER, TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
The New Year will be rockin’ baby thanks to Proven Winners’ introduction of the Salvia Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes. Not only will this salvia bring in the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies all summer, but it will be trending with the celebration of 2020 Pantone Color of the Year ‘Classic Blue’.
To be exact, Classic Blue is Pantone 19-4052, for those wanting to be in vogue by painting the master bedroom or living room or tweak the wardrobe. In the gardening world, I look at the Pantone Colors of the Year with the proverbial ‘chip card.’
Chip cards are what everyone gets at the paint store where the top of the card has Classic Blue and as you glance downward it takes you through the various related shades. When it comes to flowers, it would be near impossible to be exact on Pantone 19-4052.
Blue is one of the colors that catches your eye when used in the garden and is a color we all treasure. The word “blue” itself can cause confusion and invoke several different feelings or thoughts because it carries a lot of meanings in the English culture and language. Friends are true blue or perhaps you are feeling blue.
What we do know is that most of us want some blue in our gardens. It is the ultimate cool color, and I don’t mean “in vogue,” either. Blue is unique in that if you give it a hint of another color, you still have a shade of blue. Oddly, these blue shades work harmoniously with each other.
So, while Pantone and their color gurus set the new trend, know that the garden world wants to be a participant and join the Classic Blue celebration. Proven Winners has gone full onboard developing promotional pieces showcasing their extraordinary blue flowers. In all, there is a baker’s dozen of tried and true, award-winning blue flowers for gardeners to use in creating dazzling designs.
Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes salvia, debuting this spring, offers a most rare shade of blue coupled with an incredible performance. As garden gurus, we often catch ourselves using descriptors such as hummingbird magnet or pollinator magnet. With Rockin’ Blue Suede Shoes, salvia get the camera ready!
In my garden it reached just under 4-feet tall and 3-feet wide, blooming until late November. It was a never-ending feast by hummingbirds, swallowtails, monarchs and various sulphur butterflies.
Denim ’n Lace is another outstanding choice and is the 2020 Proven Winners National Perennial of the Year. It will quickly become the Russian sage to which all others are compared. The Garden Guy has always loved Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) even though they were typically loose and airy and falling over.
Denin ’n Lace is different, offering blue flowers partnered with amethyst calyxes and borne on sturdy 32-inch upright stems with a 36-inch spread. It will bloom midsummer through fall, adding rich beauty while bringing in hummingbirds and at the same time offering deer resistance.
Catalina Midnight Blue (torenia or wishbone flower) and Blue My Mind (evolvulus) are two more outstanding choices in the baker’s dozen. Both have won awards from Texas to Michigan and Georgia to Minnesota. Catalina Midnight Blue is a deep blue, true-blue, while Blue My Mind offers olive grey-green foliage that sports icy blue blooms.
Remember that blue works with any other color in the garden. Its opposite is orange, which may be the most wonderful marriage in gardening. Last year’s Pantone Color of the Year ‘Living Coral’ also creates a take your breath away partnership with blue. Lastly, put your favorite blue with red and you have the beginning of a patriotic garden. Make plans now and let Pantone Classic Blue be the inspiration in planting this spring.
Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.